It’s Election Day – A Learning Experience For Your Kids

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It’s a special time in a child’s life, when they get to see how our government works in the United States of America.  Hearing about the Presidential nominations, election and the outcomes is how these young impressionable students will learn to decipher the system for themselves.  Informing them about the issues that a candidate’s platform is built upon is a good start.  With the US Presidential Election process only occurring every four years, each election of your child’s life should be a springboard for discussions.  Starting early allows several opportunities to delve deeper into issues at hand as a student ages.  Begin by explaining the right and privilege of voting.  Share with them the American honor of getting to choose our political leaders.   Four years later, they may be old enough to add a bit about the candidates, to take them with you to show them the process of voting in the ballot box, and to tell them who you are voting for and why.  By the time a third election is witnessed, you can delve further into the process by offering history lessons, asking them to do some research and form their own opinions about the issues.  In the end, they will know how to make fully informed election choices on their own, as independent voters.  Be sure to highlight important topics of tolerance, forbearance, and consideration to fellow countrymen at every opportunity.

You will have instilled a true gift: The practice of using this democratic method as a way of being heard and of steering the future of our country.  Many young Americans of college age will now be voting for the first time.  This election has been a more controversial than most.  Rather than choosing a candidate based on gender or popularity, knowing and understanding the issues will be the more tactical method for casting a vote.  Having a firm foundation and educational knowledge of the election process is a sure way to boost the confidence of our decision makers of today and of the future.  By far, the best educational election instruction you can give your children is leading by example…   go vote!

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Who Needs TV?

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NEWS FLASH:  Montessori kids come home and make timelines of the earth…  WHO NEEDS TV?!!

This was from a parent note sent to our Lower Elementary teacher, Mr. David.  The student’s were learning in class about the timeline of the earth.  They became so excited they continued the learning experience, not only through the remaining class period, but at home as well.  This set of children, a brother and a sister, elementary level 1 and level 3, along with a friend, worked together to design timeline posters.  They delegated periods to each person within the group.  The other student is working on their chosen periods separately at home.  They will bring the completed project together for a presentation in class.  These two student’s completed a full timeline, a book, and worked on play costume designs.  Their mother submitted a quote to us that she had overheard during the process, “Ah, the Trilobites.  I remember when THEY ruled the earth!”

Really?  Who does need tv when you have flamed imaginations, sparked by great Montessori education?

I think a quick explanation is needed for the non-Montessori experienced blog readers.  These  students of varied age were able to work on the same project in class because that’s how it works in Montessori.  The older students, who have now had expounded lessons on subjects are able to share and help the younger students.  This shared learning isn’t just happening because they are brother and sister, but because it is fostered in every Montessori classroom.  An Elementary classroom, for instance, has 1st grade through 3rd together.

How could the students continue the progress of excited learning and not miss other lessons?  This is also how the Montessori classroom works.  Within certain time limits, students may continue a sparked learning moment.  They individually choose work, from a teacher prepared daily lesson plan.  If they have busily completed all other daily work, they are free  to develop on the things that warranted further curiosity.  There is a freedom to the resources in a classroom, in that a student may work quietly by themselves, or within small groups, to research on a computer, check out a book from the school library, fact find within the classroom materials, brainstorm, draw, even work outside in a nearby setting.  This is why authentically educated Montessori children are so excited to attend school every day.  Children are inherently thirsty for knowledge and Montessori teaches them to seek out how to quench it themselves.

The picture with this story says a thousand words…  The tv is directly behind the children’s work area, but remains off.  Again, this project is being produced by a 1st grader and two 3rd graders.  David & Grace (in the photo), and Samantha working independently at home.  Now for the big question – How many of you know what a Trilobite is?

Happy Birthday Maria!

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A Love for Learning, What a gift!

Maria Montessori doesn’t just have a birthday, she gives us all a gift.  With each passing year the method becomes a way of life for more families, and further impacts our world.  The North American Montessori Teachers Association has reported, as of 2015, an estimate of about 4,500 Montessori schools in the U.S. and about 20,000 worldwide practicing the Montessori method. We have been equiped with an educational method that will offer our children the development opportunity to enter the world as engaged, competent, respectful, and responsible people.

Montessori education offers our children opportunities to develop their potential with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.  Montessori allows for each child to learn as quickly or as slowly as they need to.  They may return to a particular study in order to master it or grow from it further.  Children work independently with the assistance and guidance of the teacher.  As students choose a work project from the materials, others may be sitting nearby, also working independently.  At any given time in a day, children are working on various subjects such as math, reading, science, language, history, art, etc.  Mastering a work builds the child’s self-esteem, giving confidence that he or she can achieve the next larger, deeper work.  A multi-age class allows younger students to learn from the experience of the older ones.  Children learn from other children as well as by lessons, offered individualy and to groups, by the teacher.  Typical age spans of three years helps a child to feel secure in the fact that the room, many of the students, and often times the teachers, will be the same.  Concentration can therefore be placed on the amazing work developed by Montessori.

Our children are encouraged by her method to develop a love of learning for its own sake…  A gift to parents, a gift to educators, a gift to themselves, a gift to the world!

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

Building the Pink Tower: a Vision We Support

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Pink Tower SupporterWe are closely following the Indiegogo Campaign called Building the Pink Tower.”  The goal of the project is to produce a film that as, Co-producers/Co-directors, Vina Kay and Jan Selby say, “will shine a light on Montessori education.”  The film will be a powerful tool that can change the conversation about education on the local and national levels. We have offered our support and would like to share this campaign vision with you in hopes you will consider supporting them too. They are accepting donations for as little as $10.00. We can also show support by simply spreading the word.

Posted from the website

What if we were to set aside the noise of failing schools, teacher evaluations, test scores, achievement gaps, and funding issues — and ask, instead, what is the true goal of education?

Building the Pink Tower will look at education differently. Through the lens of Montessori education — now more than 100 years old — we will see how families and educators have embraced schools as a place for creative learning, problem solving, collaboration, and community building. Viewers will follow children as they discover their love of learning through exploration of beautiful, carefully prepared classroom environments. We will all come to see that the essence of the Montessori approach is nothing new, but rather takes us back to our simple shared desire to understand the world around us.

Viewers will enter the lives of children as they experience Montessori education in classrooms ranging from pre-school through high school. From the backyard of an urban housing project, to a farm in Wisconsin, to an innovative charter high school, viewers will see what works in education and what families want for their children, regardless of race, culture, or income. And, they will see how essential children are in building their own powerful learning experiences.

Building the Pink Tower will be a feature-length documentary film that opens our eyes to what Montessori education means today. With the help of educators, neuroscientists, families, and children, it answers our most challenging questions about what children need.

Most of all, Building the Pink Tower will allow us to see how the building blocks of rigorous teacher training, carefully prepared environments, deep respect of children, and warm and inclusive communities, fit together to support children in our changing world.

From this solid base, we can work to build education that inspires children and prepares them for life.

What is the Pink Tower?

The Pink Tower is a an important Montessori material at the Children’s House (three to six year old) level.  The ten wood cubes painted pink allow young children to develop coordination and understand dimension as they build the tower, from the largest cube to the smallest.

The working title of our project, Building the Pink Tower, takes its inspiration from this material.  We are inspired, like the young children in a Montessori classroom, to build a beautiful story, and learn something along the way.

Please help in any way you can to Build the Pink Tower that will be this documentary film. 

“We Are In Our Work Cycle”

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Work Cycle Blog

Have you ever seen this sign posted on the door of your child’s classroom and wondered what it meant? Montessori is unique in its insistence on freedom within a prepared environment. Teachers don’t “mandate”, they “invite” and “entice”. For this, an uninterrupted morning work cycle is needed. The school day is structured to provide learners with at least one daily uninterrupted work period appropriate to the age of the children in the class. This is traditionally understood as a two to three hour period in the morning. The purpose of this long, uninterrupted block of work time is to allow students to select work freely, eventually becoming absorbed in work that has a particular fascination for them at their point of development. Interruptions, no matter how valuable the alternative activity might seem to be, disturbs the fragile development of the child’s focus, concentration, and intellectual exploration on the task.

The classroom is developed for the children so they can achieve independence.  Maria Montessori’s design of “casa dei bambini,” which translated means “children’s home” or “children’s community,” was a community for children where they should feel ownership and pride in the environment.  The classroom is their community, more than it is for the adults.  As you may have noticed, the rooms have appropriately sized furniture and materials, all work is eye level and made pleasing to a child’s eye.  The idea remember, is to entice and invite the child.  Having a choice in what they work with, rather than being told, allows children to develop independence, autonomy, and a healthy development of free will to learn.  Montessori envisioned her education as a movement to empower children to create themselves as “joyful scholars.”  Thus it is important for us as educators, students, and parents believing in and operating under the method prescribed to preserve the work cycle period.  How can this be done?  First a teacher must make the time in her schedule.  Our school places door signs that read, “We are in our Work Cycle” as reminders of the concentration taking place or trying to take place within the room.  Then when arriving late, saying goodbye to your student outside the door, remaining quiet as you allow them into the room, and abstaining from conversation with your teachers are all respectful practices.
Montessori Work Defined:

Work is a purposeful activity.  Maria Montessori observed that children learn through purposeful activities of their own choosing; Montessori schools call all of the children’s activities “work.”

Children work with materials at their own pace, repeating an exercise until it is mastered.  The teacher may gently guide the process, but her goal is to inspire rather than instruct.  Throughout the classroom, beautifully prepared, inviting curriculum areas contain a sequential array of lessons to be learned.  As students work through the sequence, they build and expand on materials and lessons already mastered.  All the while they are developing qualities with which they’ll approach every future challenge: autonomy, creative thinking, and satisfaction in a job well done.

 Some of the information here has been excerpted from an article found at The International Montessori Council website:

~ sabrina padgett ~